Flat Bench vs. Incline Bench

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  1. Quote Originally Posted by ItsHectic View Post

    I think the most interesting thing of the studies, if you go to the previous one and read it aswell, is that using resistance bands seem to be superior.
    am i missing something? bands? man i find that hard to believe since free weights recruit more muscle fibers and motor neurons... then again i havent read the study yet
    Suffer now.. and live like a champion later.


  2. Quote Originally Posted by ohiostate2827 View Post
    only chest prob i have is my right side is better developed than my left..tried doin just db for a few months..tried just training my left pec only..nothing seems to even them up
    Welcome to the club! There will always be minute differences in symmetry, our job is to hide them and fix them the best we can. I wouldn't loose any sleep over it if I where you
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  3. Quote Originally Posted by bezoe View Post
    am i missing something? bands? man i find that hard to believe since free weights recruit more muscle fibers and motor neurons... then again i havent read the study yet
    The exercises with bands despite their mediocre movement faired better than their non band versions, for example band pushups.
    Band facepulls were the best exercise for both lateral and rear delts.
    I think this has to do with muscle mechanics, for instance I know that lateral delts are most isolated(from the supraspinatus and the anterior delt) towards the end of the movement on lateral raises. And as for the pushups the chest seems to be weak in the stretched position possibly thanks to the stress on the shoulders, so the bands kind of even out the intensity over the whole ROM, making it harder when it would otherwise be easier( a lot of the time this is in the fully contracted position) which allows for more muscle fiber recruitment.
    This is one reason why I dont like using cables as its basically the same resistance throughout the ROM despite the muscles being stronger or weaker in different portions of the movement.

  4. Quote Originally Posted by ItsHectic View Post
    The exercises with bands despite their mediocre movement faired better than their non band versions, for example band pushups.
    Band facepulls were the best exercise for both lateral and rear delts.
    I think this has to do with muscle mechanics, for instance I know that lateral delts are most isolated(from the supraspinatus and the anterior delt) towards the end of the movement on lateral raises. And as for the pushups the chest seems to be weak in the stretched position possibly thanks to the stress on the shoulders, so the bands kind of even out the intensity over the whole ROM, making it harder when it would otherwise be easier( a lot of the time this is in the fully contracted position) which allows for more muscle fiber recruitment.
    This is one reason why I dont like using cables as its basically the same resistance throughout the ROM despite the muscles being stronger or weaker in different portions of the movement.
    ok, yea for those movements that is plausible... it seems that using chains follows the same concept, i.e., more resistance as the concentric movement advances

    it funny though, that none of the bodybuilders i know of use bands
    Suffer now.. and live like a champion later.

  5. You have to understand, they don't hold incline powerlifting meets. Now if it was the other way around the incline would be the strongest lift.
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  6. Quote Originally Posted by bezoe View Post
    ok, yea for those movements that is plausible... it seems that using chains follows the same concept, i.e., more resistance as the concentric movement advances

    it funny though, that none of the bodybuilders i know of use bands
    it is to my understanding that they are using bands with the free weights IE: putting both plates on the bar and running a band from the bench to the bar on both sides for the bench press

  7. Quote Originally Posted by Ubiquitous View Post
    I don't think there is really a "should" in the equation.
    I agree with this. It all depends on your genetic make up and where you are naturally stronger and what exercises work better FOR YOU. I gain and work the best at Flat. Whether it's flys, benching, push-ups, dumbells. You name it. I see little to no gains otherwise. Typically otherwise all I do is burnout my shoulders. Incline is all shoulders for me. I feel no chest really. Decline is ok but typically easier cause the ROM is shorter. Find what works for you and keep doing it. There's no set exercises that work for everyone. There's guys have have been gifted with chest symmetry who all they really have to do is push-ups and have low body fat and they will have amazing looking pecs.
    “Lord, whom shall we go away to? You have sayings of everlasting life"- John 6:68

  8. I think people are almost missing the point here by looking for the 'best exercises'.

    For example, the incline press will recruit less pec than the flat press all things being equal but if you went on EMG studies alone you would limit your exercise routine right down. Bodybuilders would naturally want to tap into different motor pools so exercise variation is key, I don't see this as a problem if you have to use the incline press as an alternative. I disagree with Flaw's comments on finding what you are good at and stick with it. If you stick with the flat bench only you will inevitably plateau and need to change it.

    Although incline technically should be the weakest and decline strongest there are other factors including grip distance on the bar.

    I prefer neutral grip pressing for further ROM on chest exercises.

    In the spirit of discussion the weights used in the study would influence results i.e., % used of 1RM.

  9. Quote Originally Posted by bdcc View Post
    . I disagree with Flaw's comments on finding what you are good at and stick with it. If you stick with the flat bench only you will inevitably plateau and need to change it.
    You missed my point. I wasn't saying stick to one exercise all the time, I was saying stick to what works for you. This could be a variation of flats, or a variation of inclines. Wherever you personally see the best results don't force yourself at angles in which it hinders your gains.

    Just as a side note though, you can maintain flat bench as a core exercise and see gains constantly if you do it right by changing tempo,rest periods, reps, sets and intensity. You can even change your other exercises constantly around your flat bench. There is no set rule. I've gone 8 months on dumbell presses without a plateu. The only reason I had to quit was because the weight became too much for my shoulders and my joints gave out.
    “Lord, whom shall we go away to? You have sayings of everlasting life"- John 6:68

  10. Quote Originally Posted by Frequency View Post
    it is to my understanding that they are using bands with the free weights IE: putting both plates on the bar and running a band from the bench to the bar on both sides for the bench press
    Ah. I knew i was misinterpreting.. thanks for clearing that up. you saved my lazy a** from having to actually read the study lol
    Suffer now.. and live like a champion later.

  11. Quote Originally Posted by Flaw View Post
    You missed my point. I wasn't saying stick to one exercise all the time, I was saying stick to what works for you. This could be a variation of flats, or a variation of inclines. Wherever you personally see the best results don't force yourself at angles in which it hinders your gains.

    Just as a side note though, you can maintain flat bench as a core exercise and see gains constantly if you do it right by changing tempo,rest periods, reps, sets and intensity. You can even change your other exercises constantly around your flat bench. There is no set rule. I've gone 8 months on dumbell presses without a plateu. The only reason I had to quit was because the weight became too much for my shoulders and my joints gave out.
    definetely agree man..

    people (like p90x) try to sell that "muscle confusion" jargon, when i think it is only effective to an extent.

    The last thing you wanna do is "confuse" your muscles.. this is why powerlifters keep excelling in their lifts is because they do squats to squat heavier, bench to bench heavier and so on..

    you can flat bench or db press year round and still make gains if you incorporate good ancillary exercises and eat adequately
    Suffer now.. and live like a champion later.

  12. h t t p://w ww.bodybuilding.com/fun/video-anatomy-of-the-chest.htm . Just saying how reverse-grip flat bench is alot better than incline presses. Just something I read so nobody jump me for saying this. Though I have to say when i tried them i felt it alot better.

    Incline-320
    Flat-382
    Decline-416

  13. Quote Originally Posted by Basso View Post
    Incline utilizes a lot of shoulders while the flat uses alot of back, if you lats are weak and you have strong shoulders it's possible to have a stronger incline, but your flat should be stronger. Like Enigma said, proper technique will make a huge difference, on the incline it's not as easy to get the whole body involved, it's a lot more isolatory.
    I agree with your principle. Most of the guys I've seen with the big round delts tended to start chest day with incline. I try to work on shoulders a lot and and about even between incline and flat.

  14. Both movements can serve effective...

    Flat benches are an absolutely must in a routine, while inclines are an accessory, so not everyone needs them. I've had clients I told not to do incline, while I had clients that I had doing inclines twice per week. It just depends on the person and their genetic response.

    As far as which one works out the chest better, well inclines would work the clavicular head of the pec better, obviously; while bench presses would work the sternal head better. Inclines can be a chest/shoulder hybrid and nothing more than more stress put onto already imbalanced shoulders in most peoples case.

    Incline presses are a push force exercise though, so you'd need to incorporate a pull to balance it - face pulls.
    Former Marine, UT-BSN, NSCA-CPT, NASM-CPT, CSCS

  15. I think the angle of the bench makes a HUGE difference as to whether you're really working your upper pecs or just transferring the weight to the anterior deltoids. I have found that most incline benches are set at MUCH too steep an angle. When I use them, I tend to feel it in my shoulders quite a bit. That's why I prefer to use the adjustable benches and select an angle somewhere between flat and regular incline. This means I can only use dumbbells, but it seems to hit the upper pecs much better than either flat bench or regular fixed incline benches. I saw a video on Youtube of Dorian Yates saying much the same thing.

    Of course, I agree with what has been written above in that results will vary from person to person.

  16. It depends on what your goin for. If your into powerlifting then, your flat bench should be higher. If your more toward bodybuilding and size and proportion, then you shouldnt even do flat barbell, in my opinion. Flat barbell bench is one of the least productive chest excercises there is, and the most dangerous. Incline is far superior. Im personally more into dumbells. Your chest works the most when your hands go out at the bottom and comes together at the top. By the way, its the same for lat growth, but thats a different story.

  17. "Getting back to our question, the pectoralis major is one muscle with two heads, clavicular and sternocostal, that cover the chest and insert on the upper arm bone (humerus). The clavicular head originates at the center portion of the collar bone (clavical), and in lay language this area is referred to as the upper pecs. One of its primary functions is to raise the arm. The sternocostal head originates at the costal cartilage of the first six ribs and the adjoining section of the breast bone (sternum), and is called the lower pecs. One of its primary functions is to lower the arm.

    One method of determining how muscles are activated during an exercise is called electromyography (EMG), a diagnostic tool........

    In researching the answer for this question, I found one paper using EMGs that compared muscle activation between the incline bench press and the decline bench press. The authors concluded that the lower portion of the pectorals was more active during decline presses than during incline presses, but that neither exercise completely isolated these muscles. From this data you can conclude that exercises which position the hands farther from the center of gravity will more strongly work the upper pecs (e.g., incline bench presses), and exercises that position the hands closer to the center of gravity (e.g., bench presses) work the lower pecs. However, this study did not look at the flat bench press, a consideration that turns out to have significant ramifications in exercise selection.

    I say this because I then found another study that did EMG measurements of the incline, flat, and decline presses. It found that the maximum recruitment of the upper pecs was with an incline press, and the maximum recruitment of the lower pecs was with a flat, not decline, press. The study also looked at hand spacing, and what’s interesting is that it found that a wider grip did not significantly increase the involvement of the lower pecs in flat bench presses. With this information, I could now confidently answer this pec training question by saying that incline presses would be best for the upper pecs, and flat bench presses would be best for the lower pecs. But there’s more.

    I found another EMG study that examined the differences between muscle activation during the barbell bench press, the dumbbell bench press and the dumbbell fly. What the researchers found was that the dumbbell fly had less muscle activation time than either the barbell bench presses or the dumbbell bench presses. With this information, I could expand my answer by saying that the dumbbell fly is an inferior exercise for developing the lower pecs.

    The next step was to search for research that looks at various hand positions, and I found a study that looked at the differences in hand position using a special bar called a Football Bar. What this two-month study found was that of three grips tested, the thumbs-out grip produced the greatest increases in strength (a 12.3 percent average improvement compared to a 6.2 percent improvement in the conventional bench press). Again, this gave me more practical information to use in program design, and also in terms of exercise equipment purchases (which is why both my gym and the PICP Chicago are equipped with Football Bars)." - Charles Polquin

  18. Theres a thread going on at PM right now saying how declines recruit most of the pec muscles, and builds a fuller chest.

    IDK, I guess we better do all 3 LOL!!
    True story:

    I give a f**K!!

  19. i usually hit flat for about 3 months then move to incline for 3. never added decline in it yet but after my incline term ill try it.

  20. Quote Originally Posted by Jake Fires View Post
    i usually hit flat for about 3 months then move to incline for 3. never added decline in it yet but after my incline term ill try it.
    how is your strength when you come back to your flat bench "term"? i would think not performing an exercise for 3 or more months would cause those muscles to atrophy and that movement to become weak
    Suffer now.. and live like a champion later.

  21. I'm sure you might be a little weaker in the flat bench, if you haven't performed it in awhile, but I don't know about atrophying muscle. No matter what angle the bench is, the pec as a whole is still being worked. Just a little more emphasis is placed on a particular area.

  22. After YEARS&YEARS,stacked upon YEARS of INCLINING,it has been declared on this 5th day of FEB. 2010,the tried and true exercise is useless

    As a matter of fact....My local programming was just interrupted to bring me this earth shattering news[/QUOTE]

    The way I look at this discussion is this. While incline is a valuable chest exercise, I do not feel it builds your chest better than flat BB in ANY way shape or form for a few simple reasons.
    1) A exercise where you can use more weight is going to create a larger muscle.
    2) Flat BB is tried and true. After ONLY flat benching for the past 6 months straight, my incline was stronger so explain that one.
    3) Incline is harder on your rotator cuffs than Flat BB (unless your a noob and you don't bench right).

    Overall I don't care what an EMG says, it can show it all it wants about muscle activation. I care about what works. Go look at some powerlifters who can bench 600 lbs..that NEVER do Incline or Decline..Their upper pec is bigger than yours I bet.

  23. In my experience the best thing for increasing chest size has been GVT (10x10), flat bench super-set with either squats (I prefer) or weighted pullups.

    Strength 5x5 flat bench with some negatives thrown in 2 times a month since I train chest 2x a week.

  24. Quote Originally Posted by lonewolf0420 View Post
    I'm sure you might be a little weaker in the flat bench, if you haven't performed it in awhile, but I don't know about atrophying muscle. No matter what angle the bench is, the pec as a whole is still being worked. Just a little more emphasis is placed on a particular area.
    Youre right, the way i said it made it sound like you wont have half your pecs after 3 months, my bad. But yea with less emphasis and stimulation of the sternal fibers, they will weaken and probably atrophy to an extent. Thats probably the worst case scenario- if the person is performing other exercises that activate those fibers they may be able to maintain, but im sure 3 months without a movement will elicit a strength discrepency which is indicitive of contractile tissue loss.
    Suffer now.. and live like a champion later.

  25. Quote Originally Posted by BigKrabbe View Post
    The way I look at this discussion is this. While incline is a valuable chest exercise, I do not feel it builds your chest better than flat BB in ANY way shape or form for a few simple reasons.
    1) A exercise where you can use more weight is going to create a larger muscle.
    2) Flat BB is tried and true. After ONLY flat benching for the past 6 months straight, my incline was stronger so explain that one.
    3) Incline is harder on your rotator cuffs than Flat BB (unless your a noob and you don't bench right).

    Overall I don't care what an EMG says, it can show it all it wants about muscle activation. I care about what works. Go look at some powerlifters who can bench 600 lbs..that NEVER do Incline or Decline..Their upper pec is bigger than yours I bet.
    I disagree..
    How do you explain Dorian Yates chest build after years of only utilizing incline?

    I actually use more weight on inclines- individuals vary.

    Can you post a study on why incline is "harder on rotator cuffs" ? I'd like to see one.

    EMG is a proven objective measurement. How can you disagree with that?
    Suffer now.. and live like a champion later.
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